After the success of their first volume Ophélie Gaillard and Pulcinella propose a second disc devoted to Johann Sebastian Bach's most talented and surprising son, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788). The Sinfonia in C major expresses multiple emotions, ranging from irrepressible suffering in the Adagio to joyous release and insouciance in the concluding Allegretto, tinged with near-Mozartian grace. The Cello Concerto in B flat reveals the influence of the waning Baroque era and Vivaldi in particular.
A portrait, on the tercentenary of the composer's birth, of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), probably the most gifted of the sons of Johann Sebastian Bach. Highly admired in his own century by Haydn, Gluck and Mozart, he stands out today as a brilliant and highly original composer. For CPE Bach, music had to be an expression of personal feelings and to achieve his aim, he revolutionised the established principles of form, harmony and rhythm. The Trio Sonata 'Sanguineus und Melancholicus' is a rarity in the composer's output in that it is a quasi-programmatic work. It presents a conversation between one sanguine (first violin) and the other melancholic (second violin). The same duality is found throughout the recordings presented here, from the well-known Sinfonia No. 5 to the two brilliant cello concertos. Under the bow of cellist Ophélie Gaillard, at the head of the Pulcinella Orchestra, these pieces come as a revelation!
Medieval Baebes and other far greater shocks to the bourgeoisie have come along. Wild adventures placed under the rubric of performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons are commonplace. Yet Nigel Kennedy continues to roost atop the classical sales charts in Europe, and even to command a decent following in the U.S. despite a low American tolerance for British eccentricity. How does he do it? He has kept reinventing himself successfully. Perhaps he's the classical world's version of Madonna: he's possessed of both unerring commercial instincts and with enough of a sense of style to be able to dress them up as forms of rebellion. Inner Thoughts is a collection of slow movements – inner movements of famous concertos from Bach and Vivaldi to Brahms, Bruch, and Elgar. Actually, the only composer falling into the middle of that large chronological gap is Mendelssohn; Kennedy apparently needs a sort of otherworldly serenity for this project, which Baroque and post-Romantic slow movements may have, but Mozart does not. At any rate, this is no radical idea; it's a softball straight up the middle.
Norwegian folk musician Sinikka Langeland, singer and player of the kantele (the Finnish table harp) is a distinctly non-traditional traditionalist, redefining "folk" in successive projects. 'Maria's Song' finds her in the company of two distinguished classical musicians - organist Kare Nordstoga and "giant of the Nordic viola" Lars Anders Tomter - and on a mission to restore Marian texts to sacred music, weaving folk melodies in between the timeless strains of J S Bach. Langeland made a lot of friends with her sparkling ECM debut Starflowers: "There are jewels everywhere on this arresting example of ego-free music-making. One of the albums of this or any other year" raved the Irish Times. Where Starflowers brought Langeland into the orbit of jazz improvisers, Maria's Song is a meeting and cross referencing of folk and 'classical' energies, and also a righting of historical 'injustice': Religious folk songs are amongst the most distinctive elements of the Norwegian folk tradition, yet the Virgin Mary rarely appears in them. Once a much-worshipped figure in the Far North she was, as Sinikka puts it, "reformed" away in 1537, so this album brings Maria back into the music. It was recorded in the beautiful Nidaros Cathedral of Trondheim, famous for its Baroque organ heard here.
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.